T Nation

What To Do About Life?

Last week, on Friday I went to get my minor signed in Geography, because I thought it would be an easy minor to match up my Major in Language Arts for my Elementary Education degree at Central Michigan University. Upon going and talking to the chair of the Geopraphy department, I brought my transcript with me. He looked at the transcript for a while and came to the conclusion that I had changed my mind a lot during my 4 years of college and covered a lot of ground, with only 1 thing remaining constant, my desire to study the Japanese language.

Noticing that I have 32 credits in Japanese (enough to have completed a major in it at any normal university that offers it), he asked what I wanted to do with my life. I told him that I wanted to be a teacher and that my focus was Elementary Education. He told me that by the looks of things I didn’t want to do that at all, and I actually wanted to pursue Japanese a little more, and do something with it (after all, living in Japan for a full year kinda leaves people with this impression, as well as yourself). I told him that I’d love to do something with it, but unfortunately, CMU doesn’t offer anything in the way of Japanese (at least that I haven’t taken already).

He then asked me something that I probably should have asked myself a while ago…“Do you want to ultimately do something with Japanese, or ‘waste’ your time and money on a degree that you may not even use in the future?”. After that, he threw in a few stats, things like 1/3 (I made up that number, because I don’t remember it exactly) of all college graduates do NOT go into a field that has anything to do with the degree that they’ve earned. He kinda saw me heading in that direction, and said that if I were to graduate sooner (at this point, I was looking at 2.5 years left!), I would have a bunch of different options.

He said that I could theoretically change my major and focus, and get out of college by December of this year! In comparison, this cuts down my time at school by 2 years. I would only have to be here another half of a year instead of two and a half. Obviously I was interested to hear what he had to pitch my way, and man did he have some ideas. First of all, I told him about what I personally had planned on doing after graduation.

I said that when I graduate, I plan on immediately applying for the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program. In this program, I would move back to Japan for at least another year and become and assistant language teacher, teaching English to Japanese Middle/High-School students. To me, it didnt seem like a bad rap, and it’s something that I’ve enjoyed doing with my tutoring since I’ve been back from Japan. On top of that, my New Zealand friend Mike told me that he did the program, and it was one of the best decisions of his life. In all honesty, I had planned on doing this program until I could pay back my college loans (which at this point I believe is over $20,000 ::: ouch::: ).

He told me that this sounds like I wouldn’t need an Elementary Teaching Degree at all (I checked, he was right), and he wondered why I was even going for it at all. I told him that after my student teaching in the Elem. Ed. program, and going to Japan for a year, I would be able to decide on which one I would want to do for the rest of my career. Plus, it seemed like a really safe way to go, as I was basically guaranteed a job in America with that degree (a male teaching Elem Ed., just think about it, there are VERY few, thus high demand). He then said that he could map me out that plan to get out of college by the fall, and that my degree would be in Social Sciences, with a focus in Geography (which I’m not sure I’m so excited about). The plan looks solid and easy enough to follow, and then he threw out the other options to me…

Option #1: Take your degree and teach English in Japan under the JET Program (assuming they accept you), and see where it takes you (all you need is a 4-year degree, it doesn’t matter in what field of study).

Option 1 doesn’t look so bad, in fact, it was pretty much my original plan.

Option #2: Being a product of the Army, he suggested that I take my degree to an Armed Forces Recruiter, and tell him/her about your studies in Japan and Japanese, and he/she would be thrilled to have you join, and with a 4-year degree already earned you have the ability to go into an officer’s program as a linguist, and be stationed wherever you would like (obviously Japan).

Option 2 is honestly something that Ive never even thought about before, but it would allow me to continue my study of Japanese, and at a rate that I would really LOVE to do. This is a loaded option though, as I’ve always viewed boot camp in the armed serviced to be something that just wasn’t for me, and about the scarriest thing next to Rosie O’Donnell. However, I hear that the military pays VERY well, and going into an officer’s program is about as kosher as it gets. This is an option that I’m going to explore a little more on Monday, as I head down to the recruitment offices on Mt. Pleasant to see what each branch would have to offer me (still though, my brother is going into the Air Force in the next few months, and he has already brought my attention to the AF moreso than any of the other branches).

Option #3: Take my 4-year degree from CMU and go into a Masters program somewhere around the country that would allow me to further my study of Japanese, and even pick out a reasonable career in it.

Option 3 seems like something Im putting far in the back of my mind at the moment. I would like to continue my studies in Japanese, but honestly, the reason I’m thinking about taking this new route is because Im sick of school and want to just be an adult in the real world. I don’t like college life anymore, and I see no point in getting hammered week-in and week-out, just to do it again the next. On the other hand, I could go into a masters program anywhere in the US (theoretically the world I suppose), and get a degree where I WANT it to be, for a career that I want to have.

Option #4: Something cool that I don’t even know about yet. Maybe I could do something with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences with a focus in Geography (the focus can actually change, but this one seems like the easiest one by far), but I really don’t think it would be something I would want to do. Also, I could complete the JET program first, come back home and go into a Masters program at Michigan State University or something, I just don’t know.


This is pretty much where things stand with me right now. I have a few more tidbits to throw in too though, like the fact that my landlord is being a major pain in the ass right now and not allowing me to sign my next lease for just the fall (he makes us sign for a whole year, summers included). So as it stands right now, I don’t even know where I’m going to live in the fall. I may actually just move back to Flint with my mom or my grandma (or maybe even with my dad and sister) and commute the 90-minute trip it is to get to Mt. Pleasant 2 times a week (because I would only need to take 13 credits, and I could take them Tuesday and Thursday, and just commute on those 2 days. I wouldn’t have to worry about rent this way, which would be amazing. Gas would suck, but thats something that I could deal with. The drive probably wouldn’t be that bad, because with my recent kick on audiobooks, I could actually “get something accomplished” while driving. This is a heck of a lot to take in for one weekend, but this is where things stand at the moment. I don’t know what do with all of it, other than take it all in slowly, and not make any hasty decisions that I would regret very soon.

Please everyone, go ahead and give me your input on what you think about all of this. And as for the military stuff, I am very uneducated about the ways of the military, and anyone that could shed some experienced light on the subject would be very helpful. The last thing I want to do it to go into the recruiter and have them talk this up like it’s amazing, and then sign my life away (not that I would do that anytime before December) and find out that it’s not at all what they were talking it up to be. Unbiassed, experienced opinions only on that one please. Everything else though is free-game, and you are all welcome to throw in your input.

The one thing I have decided though, is that I want to take this new program on and get out of college as soon as possible. I really don’t like college life, and I haven’t since my sophomore year here, and even that was questionable I think. So please, let me know what you think, and I’ll continue posting in this thread with new revelations, thoughts and decisions.

(Finally, I do appologize for the length of this post, it’s a out of control, but this is a serious issue.)

I wouldn’t even know where to begin telling you what to do with YOUR life. This site is a great resource for information regarding bodybuilding, nutrition, and other things related, but I really don’t think I’d be asking complete strangers for advice like that. No one said you have to come up with the answer tomorrow. Take a little time and sleep on it for a while.

Dude!

You are SO lucky that the Chair was a straight shooter! Most could care less about anything except what grades you would be bringing into their programs. This Chair was looking out for you and trying to steer you. I wish I’d had someone like this talk to me.

You are on the right path by going and talking to the recruiters. When I did this before I graduated with my degree they told me that once graduated I’d go in as an E7 (that was about $42K a year then but tax free they told me). Boot camp would be 2 weeks officer training school (how to wear a uniform, how to eat and behave at officer’s parties, how to salute and whom to salute, how to recognize officers by their uniforms, and a little firearms training-like a day). I never looked at the USAF, I just talked to the Army and the Navy(Marines didn’t hire what my degree was in, but Navy did) both, Army & Navy were the same as above. I would also check into how long you have to be “IN” before you can get overseas assignment. With my degree I’d have to be “IN” for 4 year before overseas consideration or out of the continental 48 states.

Have you looked into the Department of Defense? The DOD hires teachers to teach soldiers kids on base, and with your background in Japanese they might JUMP at you. You could also teach conversational English for cash in the evenings to adults. With your language background You would think logically you’d be sent to Japan, but remember this is the government. Japan and SUDAN sound a lot alike!

You sound like you are sick of school, so my advice is this. As long as you stay single, and have no kids you can always go back for an advanced degree. A wife and little mouths would make it harder to do. Just make sure your grades are good so they will look at you. Look at the money you would be paid and what your bills are. Once graduated they want you to pay back that $20K loan.

I hope some of this helps you on your quest.

Another possible option for you to consider (just thrown out there for consideration):

Quickly graduate with a BA, take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course (online or at a university)…then apply for jobs in Japan.

Getting the job isn’t too hard, although Japan is regarded as a highly desirable country to work in. I’ve not gone there yet, but I will in another year or two…just want to finish up the China excursion first.

Many people do this…I’m doing it in China right now…

Next term I’m going to go to an Island in the South of China (weather like Florida…YEAH!!)

You can hop around until you find a place that you like. There are websites that assist you in getting placement as well as agencies.

And to be honest, MANY middle schools need teachers in Asia…TRUST ME!

Let me know if I can help you with more information in this field.

TB

You might want to talk about this with people that actually know you.

One thing that you need to know though is graduate school is nothing like undergraduate. I loved both experiences and would gladly trade what I have today to go back and do them again!

I’m talking this over with a lot of people, I know that there are a lot of assholes on this forum, but there are also a lot of good people who give sound advice, like some of the people who have already posted. I like to hear what you guys have to say, what’s the crime in that?

Anyways, everyone is reinforcing my choicce to go with JET, and actually through this thread I just found out about the TEFL certification, and I’m going to look into that a little more.

You guys are helping a lot, thanks, and keep up the good work!

[quote]Trailblazer wrote:
Another possible option for you to consider (just thrown out there for consideration):

Quickly graduate with a BA, take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course (online or at a university)…then apply for jobs in Japan.

Getting the job isn’t too hard, although Japan is regarded as a highly desirable country to work in. I’ve not gone there yet, but I will in another year or two…just want to finish up the China excursion first.

Many people do this…I’m doing it in China right now…

Next term I’m going to go to an Island in the South of China (weather like Florida…YEAH!!)

You can hop around until you find a place that you like. There are websites that assist you in getting placement as well as agencies.

And to be honest, MANY middle schools need teachers in Asia…TRUST ME!

Let me know if I can help you with more information in this field.

TB[/quote]

A friend of mine (brittish)is working as a English teacher here in Thailand, the university were he works DON’T hire TEFL, they only want “real” teachers. The TEFL program (might be good??) is a thing many “backpackers” here do to work in Bangkok and their status is quite low, as teachers that is.

Don’t know how the TEFL program is looked upon in Japan, might be a startingpoint?

If possible, Thrue friends, relatives, internet, whatever… Try to get a job from home, that way you have a startinpoint, can be very difficult to get a job in some areas if they don’t know you.

Workpermit is another thing to think of, check out the local laws, it can be a VERY costly “holiday” if you don’t.

Also remember Japan is a quite expensive place so a parttime job might not cover your expenses.

[quote]Mr. Moose wrote:
Trailblazer wrote:
Another possible option for you to consider (just thrown out there for consideration):

Quickly graduate with a BA, take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course (online or at a university)…then apply for jobs in Japan.

Getting the job isn’t too hard, although Japan is regarded as a highly desirable country to work in. I’ve not gone there yet, but I will in another year or two…just want to finish up the China excursion first.

Many people do this…I’m doing it in China right now…

Next term I’m going to go to an Island in the South of China (weather like Florida…YEAH!!)

You can hop around until you find a place that you like. There are websites that assist you in getting placement as well as agencies.

And to be honest, MANY middle schools need teachers in Asia…TRUST ME!

Let me know if I can help you with more information in this field.

TB

A friend of mine (brittish)is working as a English teacher here in Thailand, the university were he works DON’T hire TEFL, they only want “real” teachers. The TEFL program (might be good??) is a thing many “backpackers” here do to work in Bangkok and their status is quite low, as teachers that is.

Don’t know how the TEFL program is looked upon in Japan, might be a startingpoint?

If possible, Thrue friends, relatives, internet, whatever… Try to get a job from home, that way you have a startinpoint, can be very difficult to get a job in some areas if they don’t know you.

Workpermit is another thing to think of, check out the local laws, it can be a VERY costly “holiday” if you don’t.

Also remember Japan is a quite expensive place so a parttime job might not cover your expenses.
[/quote]

That’s a really good point…a TEFL will never replace a Masters in Education (or even a Bachelors).

However, a TEFL is considered to be better than nothing, and will be considered more than not having one at all. Some schools in Asia actually require a TEFL in addition to Masters Degree.

Many places in China, Korea, and (to a lesser extent) Japan (in my limited knowledge/research) will hire teachers with NO education degree or TEFL (to be honest, it’s how I started…I was never a “backpacker,” but just got a “break”.). Hell, I can teach oral English at many universities here just because of a BA (NOT joking, Moose).

The reason that some schools don’t hire TEFL teachers is because most of them are “on tour”…meaning just travelling…or partying, or whatever.

There is a story of a previous teacher out here that didn’t teach JACK, only played the guitar and taught English songs to his COLLEGE class. People like that make the rest of us look pretty bad, but good schools can tell the difference (I will be teaching in Hainan province in the Fall).

As for being of a lower class of teacher…I’ve not experienced it. We get paid MORE (in some cases more than 5x the salary) than any “normal” professor. To be fair, it’s possible that I’ve been lucky…

Basically, a TEFL cert will not hinder someone and may just get your “foot in the door”…if you have the winning personality and talent. Couple those things with a BA and some experience…let the good times roll.

TB

[quote]Mr. Moose wrote:
Trailblazer wrote:
Another possible option for you to consider (just thrown out there for consideration):

Quickly graduate with a BA, take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course (online or at a university)…then apply for jobs in Japan.

Getting the job isn’t too hard, although Japan is regarded as a highly desirable country to work in. I’ve not gone there yet, but I will in another year or two…just want to finish up the China excursion first.

Many people do this…I’m doing it in China right now…

Next term I’m going to go to an Island in the South of China (weather like Florida…YEAH!!)

You can hop around until you find a place that you like. There are websites that assist you in getting placement as well as agencies.

And to be honest, MANY middle schools need teachers in Asia…TRUST ME!

Let me know if I can help you with more information in this field.

TB

A friend of mine (brittish)is working as a English teacher here in Thailand, the university were he works DON’T hire TEFL, they only want “real” teachers. The TEFL program (might be good??) is a thing many “backpackers” here do to work in Bangkok and their status is quite low, as teachers that is.

Don’t know how the TEFL program is looked upon in Japan, might be a startingpoint?

If possible, Thrue friends, relatives, internet, whatever… Try to get a job from home, that way you have a startinpoint, can be very difficult to get a job in some areas if they don’t know you.

Workpermit is another thing to think of, check out the local laws, it can be a VERY costly “holiday” if you don’t.

Also remember Japan is a quite expensive place so a parttime job might not cover your expenses.
[/quote]

Almost forgot…in general, the schools will take care of work permits…and provide the Visa (although you may have to do some legwork in your home country). In China it’s a “Z Visa”…I don’t know about Japan though.

And Mr. Moose is VERY correct about japan being expensive. For the most part, you’ll have to have a chunk of money for your first month (Japaese schools don’t pay for apartment, in general, and you have to pay for “key money”…although you will be reimbursed for the most part.). In essence, Japanese schools will pay about 230,000-250,000 Yen…which is about $2000-2300 USD per month. you will have to pay rent…usually about 35000 yen (about $325 USD).

So, depending on your lifestyle, and skill at choosing a school…you can save a considerable amount of money (also depending on which city you live in).

Also, consider getting an international Drivers licence…some schools will loan you a car so you can drive it to school (or schools, if you work a few places).

TB

thanks again for the replies everyone! As for Japan’s expensiveness, its not really news to me. I lived there a year ago, for a year, so I know what its like over there. I know about all of the stereotyping, expenses, homesickness, ATMs closing at 6:00PM, etc.

Ive also learned that it benefits one to go clothes shopping well before departing for Japan. Buying clothes there when youre a 6’4" tall man can be a nightmare.

With that being said, the JET program that I would be on looks at TEFL cartification as a strength, and they would actually set me up with EVERYTHING for the first year I would be there. So it looks like Ive got much of my bases covered, now I just need to get accepted…